Public Lecture About Ionic Liquids @ ITB

Public Lecture About Ionic Liquids @ ITB

At the 29th of August Jaja joined a public lecture about Ionic Liquids in ITB by Professor Günter Grampp, who is a lecturer from Vienna, Austria. I found out about this public lecture when I was looking for lunch at ITB, because as usual, every Tuesday I join a lecture there. Luckily, I stumbled upon the banner above, and well, I decided to join this public lecture. Note that I didn’t even know what an Ionic Liquid is, until I joined this public lecture, but it’s a fun and interesting lecture, and I asked a question in the end.

The contents of this article will be my thoughts about the things I heard in the lecture, and me breaking it down…

What’s an Ionic Liquid?

By definition, an Ionic Liquid is a salt in liquid form. But, hold on… The chemical term of salt isn’t really what most people think a salt is. A salt in chemical terms is a solid crystal that is broken down. The solid crystal can only be stated as a salt if it is made from an acid, and a base that is usually a solid metal. If the acid reacts with the solid metal, and the reaction becomes a crystal, that crystal is called a salt, chemically speaking of course. Our common table salt is made with the reaction of Sodium for the base and Chloride for the acid. Their reaction would make the Sodium less metal-like and more like a crystal that is usually hammered down and ground onto powder.

That’s a bit off-topic, but some fun knowledge about salt can never be wrong am I right?

Anyways, back onto the lecture, the more chemically accurate term for “salts” are Ionic Compounds, which is the solid form of these liquids. Usually, Ionic Liquids are made by melting these Ionic Compounds that are made the usual way salts are made. But hang on a bit… Some people might ask, does that mean if I have some table salt, and mix it up with some water that is an Ionic Liquid? Well, No, it’s not… That is a mixture, which unlike a compound, that has mixed onto the molecular level, a mixture is mixed outside of the molecular structures, and isn’t forming any new types of chemical properties.

Uses Of Ionic Liquids

These Ionic Liquids are created mainly to be the conductors in batteries. These Ionic Liquids could enhance the ability of conduction in solid things, and are usually used to soak up batteries so they could conduct more optimally. Ionic Liquids could do this because of their higher electrolyte numbers, which are the properties of conductivity in a liquid. If you remember some commercials of electrolyte water, well… You’re basically drinking salt in liquid form, which in a sense might provide you some energy I guess? Don’t take my word for it 😀

Other uses for these Ionic Liquids are to dissolve harmful ingredients, which does interest me since that way, the waste that factories make can easily be dissolved and forgotten, because apparently, these Ionic Liquids can do that, and much more efficiently than our common solvents (solvents are liquids we use to dissolve waste).

Apparently efficient is in terms of liquid usage. Their cost comparison is still pretty far from one another. I couldn’t remember the difference exactly, but if I recall, the cheapest Ionic Liquid still costs 10-100 times more per liter than our common solvent. So, despite Ionic Liquids have efficiency in terms of liquid usage, and is more effective at dissolving waste, as there is no waste left after dissolved, compared to our current solvents which still makes lots of waste, the cost to invest is still not a priority in the eyes of governments and laboratories.

Professor Grumpp Is Explaining The Uses Of Ionic Liquids

Table Of Ionic Liquids..

I couldn’t understand this so much to be honest.. but, here’s a table of Ionic Liquids when compared to our regular solvents and I’ll try to explain it to you, but if you aren’t in the mood of complex thinking, you can skip this paragraph, as it’s pretty complex.

A Table Of Comparation, Professor Grampp used the exact same one

The factors listed and their meanings…

  • Number of Solvents are the efficiency per particle in dissolving forms of toxic waste
  • Applicability is pretty simple as in the functions of the liquid, and Ionic liquids have multiple uses other than dissolving things
  • Catalytic ability is the ability to function as a catalyst in poison absorption
  • Chirality is the symmetry between it’s particles, and the more symmetrical it is, the better the process of absorption and dissolving of objects
  • Vapor pressure is (like it’s name) the ability to counteract pressure from vapourous sources, this means that Ionic liquids are capable of absorbing gaseous wastes, opposed to the organic solvents
  • Flammability is pretty simple, and Ionic Liquids aren’t flammable and won’t detonate when coming to contact with heat
  • Polarity is the differences in area (which leads to separation) on a molecular level. If a molecule isn’t affected by Polarity they are “connected” to one another much more, and would have the same amounts of electromagnetic conductivity in each part of the molecule. (If this is confusing, don’t worry, I googled this first :D)
  • Tuneability is basically the range of liquids available to do this job, and Ionic liquids has a wide variety
  • Cost… well, I’ve mentioned this in the above
  • Recyclability isn’t really a “real” term, but from Professor Grampp’s explanation, it’s basically the “price” we have to pay to recycle the object. Our Organic Solvents will make the ecological side of things worse, while the Ionic Liquids need more investments to recycle
  • Viscosity is the value used to count how well an object would react when “pulled” to a point of stress. The higher the value, the more flexible an object is when they are “stressed”. (yes this is a pun)
  • Density is how dense an object is, the more dense it is, the higher the mass that it has on a smaller area.
  • Refractive Index is how well an object would refract light, this actually points more onto how clear an object is, and how light would react when sent pass the object.

My Question

I asked Professor Grampp this question: “How far do you think we are onto a cost efficient Ionic Liquid?”

Professor Grampp said that the only problem with us reaching cost efficiency with using Ionic Liquids as a solvent is that companies that invest in the making of these liquids are expecting to get their investments paid back. Scientists that make these liquids also expect payment for their work, and whilst it’s not impossible to use Ionic Liquids now it’s just not efficient because some people need to get paid, and unfortunately, the cheaper Ionic Liquids aren’t that different from our current Solvents, therefore, I think if companies finally decide it’s time to invest in the development of cheaper Ionic Liquids, only then we’d reach the point of efficiency.

I’m very satisfied with Professor Grampp’s answer, and I actually like that Professor Grampp used more objective words that isn’t actually blaming companies for their greed, because we do know that money doesn’t come without effort or for free. One day, I wish some company could invest in using some more expensive ingredients to make a more sustainable version of solvents, or anything else really.

Conclusion

Not only am I satisfied with the answers and knowledge provided in Professor Grampp’s lecture and answer, but I also enjoyed listening to his way of presenting the lecture as he did it casually while making jokes. I’m pretty certain that the lecturers I want when I go to college are those that are responsible, but can still lecture casually.

That’d be all from Jaja Azriel today, and thanks for reading!

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